Why BIM is important in 2019

Ralph Montague
ArcDox Director

How important is this “BIM-thing”? There is a lot of talk about the “digital transition” of the construction industry, and the adoption of BIM (Building Information Modelling), but how serious is this? Is it a “nice-to-have”, “optional extra”, for construction projects, or is it something more crucial, or vital than that? Who should be concerned about this? And why?

ArcDox have been providing BIM consultancy, production, training and support services, for over 10 years in Ireland, and have extensive experience in implementing BIM on projects.

“We have proved, over thousands of years, that we can construct buildings and infrastructure without using BIM or digital tools”, says Ralph Montague, “That’s not the issue – the issue is the cost of not using BIM and digital tools. Traditional work processes are slow, costly, cumbersome, problematic and even dangerous. Over 30% of the cost of construction is waste. Over 70% of projects either end up over budget, or over time, or both. Productivity in construction has hardly increased at all, over the past 40 years. People are literally dying on construction sites. And there is a huge environmental impact from construction, contributing over 40% of carbon emissions. So yes, we can build without using BIM, or digital tools, but there is a huge cost to not improving the way we work.”

BIM is about providing “Better Information”, using the best available digital technologies and processes, so that people can make better decisions, more quickly, and more confidently. This is digital information that many people can search, query, understand, use and reuse. BIM is about cutting down rework, abortive work, unnecessary duplication of work. Cutting down waste. Creating safer work environments. Doing things quicker, cheaper, and better. Improving productivity and output. Helping to save the planet. In that context, BIM is more than just “nice-to-have”, or an “optional extra” , it is incredibly important.

Who should be concerned about this? Everyone who interacts with the built environment (buildings and infrastructure). And that is almost everyone. But most importantly, those who are investing capital in buildings and infrastructure. They should be concerned about getting better quality buildings and infrastructure, for less cost, and with less impact on the environment. And “better information” at the end of the project, to be able to use for the full lifecycle of their buildings. And all the professionals in the construction industry, who serve those investing in the built environment, should also be concerned. You could say that they have a professional responsibility to be concerned and use best available techniques and practices. We are living in the digital age, and BIM is available and mature, so why would you perpetuate out-dated practices that are costly and dangerous?

Ralph Montague

ArcDox Director

Co-Ordinator of the Construction IT Alliance (CITA) BIM group

BIMcert partners highlight energy savings

The BIMcert partners have produced a new paper called, ‘Delivering Energy savings for the supply chain through Building Information Modelling as a result of the Horizon 2020 Energy BIMcert project’.

Barry McAuley
Technical University Dublin

The exploitation and utilisation of energy resources have caused severe ecological and environmental problems, including the production of emissions that contribute to global warming (Enshassi et al., 2018). The construction industry consumes up to 50% of mineral resources excavated from nature, generates about 33% of CO2 present in the atmosphere and is responsible for 40% of total global energy through both construction and operational emissions (Ajayi et al., 2016 and Zhou and Azar, 2018). This has resulted in the AEC Sector (Architecture, Engineering and Construction) out of necessity being forced to investigate new methods of practice and how best to apply resource-efficient techniques from the extraction of the raw materials to the demolition and disposal of its components.

The realisation that practices now face globalization, sustainability, and environmental concern, as well as ever-changing legislation requirements and new skills needed for the information age has resulted in technologies such as Building Information Modelling (BIM) becoming a key enabler in navigating these concerns (Jaradet, 2014). BIM can be defined as a modelling technology and associated set of processes to produce, communicate, and analyze building models (Sacks et al., 2018). BIM provides an opportunity for the Architectural, Engineering, Construction, and Operation (AECO) industry stakeholders to evaluate possible solutions and identify potential problems of the final product before the start of actual construction (Badrinath et al., 2016).

However, changing from traditional practices to BIM requires a shift not only in the technology used but also in the way design and construction teams work together (Shelbourn et al., 2017). To achieve the associated benefits that are accustomed to BIM a number of existing challenges to ICT (Information, Communication, Technology) utilisation in construction site management must be overcome which include a lack of knowledge, skills and competence, depth of understanding of decision makers and low ICT literacy (Ozumba and Shakantu, 2017). This BIM movement has also resulted in a clear, direct, and automatic impact upon engineering education systems (Jäväjä and Salin, 2014).

To assist in overcoming these barriers, so as to reach EU energy-related targets a number of funding initiatives have been put in place through Horizon 2020 with a focus on BIM, as a result of it having the potential to rapidly produce energy outputs that enable design teams to analyse and compare the most cost-effective, energy-efficient options. Such an initiative is the Energy BIMcert project, which aims to educate all areas of the supply chain in the use of BIM, to achieve better energy efficiency during the design, construction and ongoing maintenance of an asset.

Development of BIMcert qualifications continues

BIMcert aims to develop a series of training interventions using digital technology and improved blended techniques to support, enhance and maximise the impact of energy efficient skills at all operational levels within the construction industry.  Central to this is the creation of an accredited curriculum and framework of qualifications developed through the work and output from each work package, within the context of a National and European wide framework.  Establishing an accredited curriculum framework, with associated qualifications will provide the learners and stakeholders with an assurance of the qualification and standards of training. 

However, for the curriculum to have an impact it must be informed by industry requirements and responsive to this need.  From the outset of BIMcert this relationship with industry has been core to the work, as identified via the innovative BIMcert Strategy Compass, with CITB NI a core partner and local businesses such as O’Hare & McGovern and Creagh Concrete Products part of the Industry Advisory Panel.  Guidance from these partners along with feedback from our industry workshops, across the partner regions, has identified a gap in the market in terms of the offering for upskilling with BIM qualifications, with most currently offered at Masters level.  This is daunting for those businesses and workers who want to learn about BIM with the promise of some accreditation but do not wish, or have time to study at this level.  One workshop participant recommended ‘Democratising’ BIM, so that it’s not a top down skill but accessible to all involved in the project, from clients to designers, contractors to supply chain.  As such there is a responsibility to teach others about BIM, ensuring the project is not only BIM compliant but work environments from architect’s offices to construction sites are BIM inclusive.  It was also proposed that a lack of understanding and knowledge of BIM could also be leading to a mistrust of BIM and the resulting slow uptake across certain sectors of the industry.  This resistance in adopting BIM processes and tools is impeding the transition to more energy efficient construction and reduction in CO emissions within the built environment.

Following a review of existing qualifications BIMcert proceeded with the development and creation of a UK Regulated Qualifications Framework (RQF) Level 3 qualification (European Qualification Framework Level 4).  The rational for a Level 3 (4) qualification was to provide an entry point that is accessible to all construction industry workers.  BIMcert working in conjunction with Open College Network Northern Ireland (OCN NI) has developed a range of Digital Construction with Building Information Modelling (BIM) qualifications.  These offer a range of competencies and skills, starting with an introduction to BIM Principles and associated digital skills.  Authoring skills, including models and families, are also addressed along with information management.  Recognising the three pillars of BIM and the need to understand the built aspect of both the model and project, a specific energy related qualification is under development.

Together we must work to demystify and democratise BIM – breaking down the barriers faced by an industry wishing to upskill and avail of the benefits.

As part of the next phase of trials BIMcert intent to offer the Digital Construction with Building Information Modelling (BIM) Award via the BIMcert platform and website.  For more details and to sign up please visit http://www.energybimcert.eu.

Digital Construction / Building Information Modelling (BIM) Trials and Testing Workshop in Dublin

Digital Construction / Building Information Modelling (BIM) Trials and Testing Workshop


Be part of the new era in construction?

Wherever you are on the journey to Digital Construction / Building Information Modelling (BIM), whether experienced or just beginning, come along and join us. Have your say at the first round of trials and testing on the latest training and self-assessment routes currently being developed.
Workshop Outcome: The workshop will demonstrate and showcase the latest software packages that have been developed for digital construction and BIM.

Workshop Programme:

18:00-18:10 Welcome and introductions

18:10-18:15 Curriculum Development and Map

18:15-18:40 BIM Principles, context and essentials – includes 20min trials

18:40-19:05 BIM Fundamentals, key terminology, benefits and value of BIM workflow – includes 20min trials

19:05-19:20 Demo of BIM energy assessment/ BIM tools and energy performance

19:20-19:30 BIM ready online materials

19:30-19:40 Workshop summary & evaluation

19:40-20:00 Networking and close

Who should attend?

• The event is open to all within the construction industry to attend irrespective of their role and knowledge level of digital construction.

How will the findings be used?

• The findings from the workshop will help the developers finalise the digital construction training programme and will provide you with a better insight into how you and your business can benefit at all levels

Find out more about BIMCert here: https://energybimcert.eu/